President Muhammadu Buhari has been sued over his failure to probe allegations that over ₦880bn of public funds are missing from 367 Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) made this known in a statement on Sunday signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare.
According to the statement, in the suit number, FHC/ABJ/CS/1281/2021 filed last week at the Federal High Court in Abuja, SERAP asked the court to direct and compel President Buhari to promptly investigate the alleged missing N881bn of public funds.
The organisation also urged the court to ensure the prosecution of those suspected to be responsible, and the full recovery of any missing, mismanaged or diverted public funds.
SERAP noted that the suit follows the allegations contained in part 2 of the 2018 annual audited report by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation that ₦880,894,733,084.811 was spent by 367 MDAs without any appropriation.
Joined in the suit as respondents are the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN; and the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed.
The statement reads: “It is in the interest of justice to grant this application, as it would improve respect for the rights of Nigerians, and improve their access to essential public goods and services, which ought to be provided by the indicted MDAs.
“President Buhari has a constitutional duty to ensure the investigation and prosecution of allegations of corruption, as well as recovery of any missing public funds. Section 15 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution [as amended], requires the Buhari administration to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.
“The alleged missing public funds have hampered the ability of the indicted MDAs to meet the needs of average citizens, as the missing funds could have helped the government to invest in key public goods and services, and to improve access of Nigerians to these goods and services.
“The failure to investigate the allegations of grand corruption contained in part 2 of the 2018 annual audited report constitutes a grave violation of the duty placed on the Nigerian government to take appropriate measures to promote transparency and accountability in the management of public finances.”
“Mandamus is a high prerogative writ which lies to secure the performance of public duty. It gives a command that a duty of a public nature which normally, though not necessarily is imposed by statute but is neglected or refused to be done after due demand, be done.
“If there is a discretion to perform the duty, the court has the power to examine whether the discretion to refuse to act has been properly exercised.”
It noted that the recovery of the missing funds would reduce pressure on the government to borrow money to fund the budget.
“Recovering the alleged missing public funds would reduce the pressure on the Federal Government to borrow more money to fund the budget, enable the authorities to meet the country’s constitutional and international obligations, and reduce the growing level of public debts.
“These damning revelations suggest a grave violation of the public trust, the Nigerian Constitution of 1999, and international human rights and anti-corruption standards. Spending public funds without appropriation will create opportunities for corruption.
“Transparent and accountable public financial management is a key pillar of good governance, and of vital importance to provide public goods and services to citizens, as well as to create and maintain fair and sustainable economic and social conditions in the country,” the statement added.
However, no date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.